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Mazda 6 S 5 Door
Easy entry and exit. Lots of cargo room. Smooth transmission. Exciting
exterior looks. Sporty driving feel.
Too much hard plastic inside. Dark interior color does not look good after a week.
Street racer ride. Road noise, wind noise and engine noise too high.
6 S 5 Door is another entry into the competitive under $25,000 sedan
segment. There are so many choices around this price range that picking a
car is very difficult and the choices are very large. Do you buy a SUV,
sedan, wagon, or some funky mix of all these in a car that usually ends up
looking ugly. The Mazda 6 attempts to blend utility in a sedan like shape
for a good looking people and cargo mover.
The 6 series is available in three
different body styles, the sedan, a 5-Door hatchback, and a full size
wagon. The 5-Door hatchback tested here combines the interior room of a
sedan with the utility of a large rear door opening and fold flat seats.
Mazda has become known for producing fun to
drive sporty cars and this 6 does not disappoint in that arena as well.
The unique Mazda 6 5-Door features something that
this mid-sized segment lacks, utility in a sporty appearance. The roof
slopes rearward for a coupe-like appearance and it is quite difficult to
notice that this is not a sedan. The available Sport model package adds
17-inch alloy wheels, a slatted body-color grille, fog lights, sport-type
bumpers, side sill extensions and a rear spoiler, as well as side air bags
and side air curtains, 8-way power driver seat, and a security alarm.
Besides creating a striking
profile, the rear hatch allows wide-open access of up to 58.7 cubic feet of
cargo space; only 2 cubic feet less than the wagon version of the 6. Flip a
lever in the back and an enhanced rear-seat folding mechanism instantly
creates a nearly flat floor. This makes for SUV-like utility in a small fun
to drive sedan. The large width of the interior also makes for a roomy
experience for people as well.
The heart of Mazda 6 S models
is the 220 horsepower 3.0-liter V6. This engine delivers 192 lb-ft of
torque as well with variable valve timing. Power is smooth and plentiful,
while the lightweight aluminum construction keeps weight down to help
preserve outstanding handling and balance. A 5-speed close-ratio gear box
is standard on all S Sport trims, as well as the base Sport Wagon. The soft
clutch really makes for easy shifts and its BMW like smoothness is to be
commended. A standard traction control system and four wheel disc brakes
with ABS all helps keep this power under control.
Three different option
packages are available to dress up the exterior, add more convenience,
enhance the audio or add more safety features.
To start, you'll find standard air conditioning,
keyless remote entry, and power windows, locks and outside mirrors.
Cruise control and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio
system can both be controlled from the 3-spoke steering wheel, which also
tilts and telescopes for a perfect fit. The driver is treated to an 8-way
power seat, and both front seats are heated but the location of the switch
is quite difficult to find, hidden under the center armrest. Outside
mirrors are also heated for safer driving in wintry conditions. Leather
seating surfaces are firm and not very supple. We did like the leather
covered steering wheel and shift knob, something that many US automakers
Occupants are protected by
front side airbags and side air curtains with both front and rear coverage,
and the vehicle itself is protected by an anti-theft perimeter alarm. To
top it off, there is the striking presentation of bright red
electroluminescent gauges. At night we found the soft red surrounding the
ventilation controls to be a great futuristic look. The exciting and bold
headlamps as well as tail lamps also looks very good.
A power moon-roof is of an
older build quality and is quite noisy when opened in any position. We also
did not like the way it sucked out air each time we closed it at highway
speeds causing our ears to pop. Your ears will enjoy the 7-speaker Bose
audio system which delivers superb bass however. We wished that power
height adjustment was available to the front passenger as well. We did not
like the style of the air vents, with large gaping holes. We also noted that
when driving on highways and closing a window, air gets sucked out quickly
and creates a uncomfortable experience. The climate control system is quiet
and works well but in auto setting it constantly turns on the air
conditioner, which you then have to turn off manually if you want to save
some gas. We suppose it does do a good job of keeping the interior fog free
wit h the AC turned on.
The major faults of the Mazda
6 are best noticed on long journeys. We did not find both front seats to be
very comfortable as their seat bottom is not long enough to be supportive to
your legs. The noise levels at highway speeds are also quite high. Unless
you are on a very quite piece of asphalt, the road noise is very annoying
and open any window and you will not be able to speak. If you are fortunate
enough to drive very fast on the highways noise from the engine, wind, and
road are enough to cause a headache. After a long 5 hour drive, we were
extremely tired in the Mazda 6 something that is very telling of any car.
The suspension is a bit firm for everyday driving and on bumpy roads it can
get dizzying, especially for passengers. For the sporty driver, the precise
steering is great but the lack of grab handles on the passenger doors leaves
them with nothing to hang on to. Improvements in all these areas would make
this a much better car for daily use.
At a base MSRP of $23,995
this is no cheap car by any means. Optional equipment includes the luxury
package with leather trim, heated door mirrors, heated seats, and bright
gauges for $1,240. Bose audio and the power moon roof with an in dash
6-disc CD changer adds $1,335. Gas mileage was rated at 19 city, and 26
highway. Our total price came to $27,115 which is very high compared to
cars such as the Audi A4, BMW 3, and Nissan Maxima. Many lower priced cars
such as the Altima have more horsepower at 250 and even the Honda Accord has
240 horsepower. Comparing this to something like the Dodge Magnum makes for
an even weaker case for the Mazda. While the Magnum is very quiet inside
and offers the Mercedes suspension that is so great, it is a much larger car
and has a like it or hate it front end. While the Mazda does offer great
exterior looks and a sporty drive, it needs improvement in ride quality and
interior noise to make it a superb buy in this segment. Adding Navigation
and some modern features available on the Accord would be even better.